This week’s Sunday lunch sent us back onto the local narrow, winding and pot-holed roads that criss-cross the Herts and Bucks countryside. Our destination has been well written up, most recently by Giles Coren in the Times. Yes, we were bound for the Bricklayers Arms, located in the wonderfully named hamlet of Hogpits Bottom in the village of Flaunden. Distress at the lack of necessary punctuation aside, it’s a fine hostelry in a pleasant part of the countryside.
These country pubs are notoriously popular so we were booked in for 12:15, when the pub was largely empty. It didn’t stay empty long, however, and as 1pm approached the tables filled and the pub was suddenly bustling with activity and custom; not bad for a village that from any direction is down some narrow, and in places, rather potholed roads. The clientele had clearly come specifically for the pub; the muddy boots by the front door identifying the walker fraternity; while the pub also seemed quite popular with families, although as the table opposite discovered it didn’t offer any child specific meals, just half-portions of the main menu.
The food was fine and hearty, although not the flavour explosion we’d experienced a couple of weeks earlier in the Bedford Arms in nearby Chenies. The service, however, was extremely efficient, even when full during the peak of Sunday lunch, to the extent that my dessert, which the menu warned could take upto 15 minutes, needed only 5 minutes for its arrival.
Our starters, puy lentil and walnut salad with goats cheese for Tara and home smoked fish platter for me were a good start. The roasts, Sarratt pork for Tara and Shropshire beef for me were fine and nicely cooked, although the flavours didn’t stand out. The desserts really hit the spot, however, the Apple and Cinnamon tart for Tara and my apple and forest fruit crumble leaving us suitably impressed.
The pub is a reasonable size and there’s also a good number of picnic benches in the pub garden for when the weather becomes warm enough. However I suspect that at whatever the time of year Sunday lunch will likely need advanced booking, although at other times it may be possible to be rather more spontaneous for a visit.
Thanks to all of those who have provided fine suggestions for future Sunday lunch visits. These include: